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7 Revision Tips for English Literature Exam – A step-by-step guide for A-Level and GCSE

7 Revision Tips for English Literature Exam – A step-by-step guide for A-Level and GCSE

You must have heard that one cannot study for the English Literature exam. It is not true! Like any other subject, literature demands revision and re-reading tasks to attempt the exam confidently. However, the preparation methods are a bit tricky and unique, unlike other exams’ preparation. In my experience, students have a misconception or are not appropriately guided on preparing for an English literature exam and score high.

Don’t worry about your head. This guide has covered all important tips and tricks to revise for an English Literature exam, whether you are preparing for A-Levels or GCSE exam.

Stick around and get ready to have a significant impact on your performance – best of luck!

1. Organize the Data

Stop banging your head against the wall and get up to gather all the required study material and organize it. Start revising as soon as you can. If you are unsure about the books, texts, or whole syllabus, you should ask your mates or teacher. Organized data has a considerable advantage. It could be in any form; for instance, plenty of YouTube channels explain content that English Literature students need to know and learn to ace its exam. The first step to revising an exam is organizing data because it helps you make a study plan. You have to do some of your independent research, too, include context into the plan.

Find guides – they help in making notes and brainstorming over important questions. Don’t rely on one guide only; refresh your memory with great tools available such as CliffsNotesSparkNotes and York Notes, etc. Not all teachers of A-Levels and GCSE recommend the same guide. Better seek their guidance before picking the right set of guides for you.

Once everything, old and new data, is organized into one central place. Review old notes before creating new notes of each theme, text, character, poem, quotes, and every other thing. Doing so will help you think to give better answers during an exam. Let us assume your exam comes up with a question about a particular text or character. If you had a textual analysis of each character, text, or quote, you could simply think back to all the key points you made and come up with the most accurate and relevant answer. We understand that every student’s learning style varies, and getting organized is one of the most tricky steps to follow, but being organized is powerful.

2. Use Mind Maps

You must have learned and worked hard all year, now is the time to make and use your mind maps. As studying material is organized now, re-read your old essays, go through chapters of books, edit the introductions and character descriptions and find out the socio-historical context of everything. You cannot use all the material you’ve gathered so far – nobody can. Therefore, analyze stuff that strengthens your explanations, essays, and answers during exams. Discover your writing style – the reliable one because English literature has a lot of content. Therefore, break down a large amount of information into points using mind maps.

Creating mind maps could take so much of your time and energy as it requires research, knowledge, key points, distinguishing between useless and vital information, and whatnot. We would advise you to start by writing the name of any character or theme in the center of the paper and use arrows to link related quotes and information. In a nutshell, create a revision poster with quality 2 to 3 quotes and a bank of impressive vocabulary.

Among plenty of revision techniques, mind maps work the best. Use all the knowledge in your head to create your keywords. Use different colors to add notes and draw diagrams. It will make quick revision ten times more effective and accessible a few hours before the final exam.

A tip to remember, never copy any other person’s mind map and do not spend more than 20 minutes making one.

3. Practice Past Papers

One of the best ways to see how well you will perform in the final exam is to complete a past paper. We encourage our students to practice as many past papers as they can – this helps them test their abilities and discover weak areas. All GCSE and A-Level students must use old specification past papers to ace the English literature exam with flying colors.

Past papers directly help you if you practice them correctly. It is a good idea to make past papers a part of your revision, no matter what subject. Start a timer before solving a past paper or set a time limit. It’s like practicing an exam-style pattern before the big day. Be honest with yourself while solving a past paper, do not cheat or try to get external help; instead of doing it in time, check and compare your answers against the answer sheet attached with past papers.

Clear the misconception that past papers are a waste of time or one cannot improve just by practicing past papers. This isn’t true. Past papers give insights into final exams’ expectations, improve answers’ structure, essay writing style, develop exam time management skills and vocabulary.

4. Take Extra Help

Studying Literature often gets critical as it is not always easy to understand and analyze a text and write in different niches using several different styles. Therefore, we advise all students to go for extra help. Taking sessions with an experienced and competent private English Literature tutor would enhance the knowledge and add value to your revision time. Remember, boosting vocabulary, writing style, and gaining a firm hold on language beforehand is essential. To make English Literature the right pursuit for you, take the help of an expert.

5. Discuss Your Ideas

The process of revising content is not handy. It makes one tired and loses interest. Don’t stress your head, and it is a part of revision. Use the right strategies to refresh your mind with revision – talk your ideas through. Have open discussions with your people such as class fellows, study groups, teachers, private tutors, or your elder siblings or mother. Take time to discuss characters, plays, themes, poetry, essays, questions, and texts days before the final exam.

Literature is something that needs to be explored to delve into its exact meaning or relate to it. Therefore, group discussions before final exams are highly recommended to enhance your knowledge and discover facts, relevant information, and an interesting quote. Pick a topic or a piece of poetry to discuss and start sharing your ideas and thoughts with others and be all ears to their opinions. Going through textbooks won’t help you; access what’s in other’s brains, take notes, add their element in your texts, learn and unlearn actively. Give others’ points of view and quote your full concentration. Explaining your views, interpretations, receiving feedback, asking questions, and listening to others enhance knowledge and help you understand the content better.

6. Create and Revise Flashcards

Flashcards are perfect for note-taking and memorizing chunks of meaningful information, perfect for sayings and quotes. You can create flashcards that help you recall the crucial points in one glance. There are plenty of applications over the internet to create flashcards, but nothing can beat the importance of paper flashcards. Keep a pack of flashcards with you to make revision material simultaneously whenever you study a topic.

Flashcards are great to refresh memory, one important point – one flashcard! Whether it’s keywords, vocabulary, quotes, questions, key terms, or a relationship/ link between pieces of information, flashcards are the best way to learn. Instead of forcing your brain to memorize everything simultaneously, split up pieces of information on a flashcard and reread them later.

7. Practice Writing

As it’s been said, practice makes a man perfect, and not a single soul on this planet can deny this fact because it has always proved to be true. After all the revision, knowledge, past papers’ practice, and discussions, the score depends on how well you expressed or answered the question in written form. In a nutshell, your writing skills and style counts. Select your writing style and make it powerful with practice.

We understand sometimes it gets hard to invest your energy into writing specific areas of paragraphs or complete a whole essay in one sitting. Therefore, we advise our students to practice writing under timed conditions using a pen and paper.

The Bottom Line

Revision is essential to give your best during exams. It enables students to recall important points and compliments the study efforts. Students done with last-minute revision tend to appear in exams confidently and produce significant results. And when it comes to revising for an English literature exam – students should not undermine its importance. However, students should keep a tab on their health while revising for exams; otherwise, it could lead to anxiety and stress. Revision skills are essential, and every student should master them. If ‘how to revise’’ is still taking a toll on your mental health, why not book a session with an experienced and competent private English Literature tutor? Device methods of revision at your pace!

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With over 3 years of experience in teaching, Chloe is very deeply connected with the topics that talk about the educational and general aspects of a student's life. Her writing has been very helpful for students to gain a better understanding of their academics and personal well-being. I’m also open to any suggestions that you might have! Please reach out to me at chloedaniel402 [at]